After-school robotics club wins Universities South West award for UWE graduate

Issue date: 18 October 2011

European Regional Development Fund

Robotics graduate Zan Nadeem from the University of the West of England has won a prestigious regional enterprise competition with her idea to provide after-school robotics clubs and workshops for pupils aged 10 -15 years.

Zan's business, Restech, won the Student Enterprise Award 2011 at Universities South West's Innovation in Action showcase event held recently at the Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton.

Six businesses drawn from universities in the South West competed for the award. Zan's idea was overwhelmingly the favourite among the conference audience, with 45% voting for her idea as the most innovative or original enterprise in a live poll.

This is the second award Zan, who graduated from UWE in June with a first class BSc in Robotics, has won with her innovative idea. Earlier this year, Restech came first at the Plan Stage of UWE's new enterprise competition.

Restech stands for Robotic Educational Systems and Technology, and aims to be the leading provider of after-school robotics clubs and workshops for primary and secondary schools, initially in Bristol. Restech will recruit and train university students to deliver the clubs, where school students are able to build and program robots. Students learn about engineering, electronics, software development etc and develop a range of creative and soft skills.

Zan said, “Robotics is an emerging industry, so there is a gap in the current education provision creating an opportunity to teach young students about robots and the impact that robots will have on their future lives. Also, all schools want their students to become more engaged and enthusiastic about STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths) subjects, and teaching robotics is a brilliant and innovative way to do this.

“For the past three years, I have been working in various schools, teaching robotics to students aged 10-15. I know the market, have built up many contacts and I know how to make this business successful.”

When told she had won the Universities South West student enterprise award, she said, “That's amazing - I am really encouraged that my business won.”

Fern Urquhart, Head of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE who chaired the event, said, “We are thrilled with Zan's success and will be following her progress with interest. Robotics is a new technology area that inspires schools and attracts industry investment in Science, Technology and Engineering.”

The Innovation in Action showcase was an opportunity for the South West Region's Universities to celebrate the achievements of the three-year, £4.3m ERDF and SWRDA funded Knowledge Escalator South West project. Delegates from the business community, universities and business groups had the opportunity to increase their understanding of the range of collaborative activity between business and universities and how the project has helped universities and businesses in the South West exchange knowledge for real economic benefit.


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